Marriage is much more than a civil contract with legal benefits. Marriage is an essential part of His plan, and the relationship between husband and wife carries great spiritual and emotional significance. The Bible teaches God’s expectations regarding marriage and gives practical relationship advice.
The first commandment God gave to Adam and Eve concerned their family relationship and their role as a couple (Genesis 1:28). Marriage is an eternal concept. It is meant to be a loving, intimate, selfless relationship between a man and a woman that lasts through eternity.
The Bible teaches, “Husbands, love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25) and “teach the young women . . . to love their husbands” (Titus 2:4). Love within marriage can be deeper and more selfless than within any other relationship. It is this type of love that Jesus expects of His followers, and it is the virtue that couples need the most.
Marriage involves spiritual, emotional, and physical closeness. In the Old Testament, we are taught, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Married couples are meant to be unified in every possible way.
Sexual intimacy is an expression of love that brings happiness and unity into a marriage. It is also the power by which married couples can “multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Intimacy is a blessing that can lead to the incomparable joy of children as part of the eternal family unit.
The Savior taught, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Couples can learn a powerful lesson from this teaching. As a spouse, you are expected to essentially lay down your old life and to sacrifice many of your personal desires for your closest friend—your husband or wife. The more you are able to put your spouse first and keep your focus on the success of your partnership, the stronger your marriage will be.
Most marriages are founded on love—but it’s choosing to maintain and grow that love that can be the challenge. That’s where commitment comes in. God considers marriage to be an agreement between a husband and a wife as well as a commitment between the couple and Him. He expects us to dedicate ourselves to the relationship, and to recognize our responsibilities, duties, and loyalties both to our spouse and to God. The scriptures can teach us how to do that.
Marriage can require hard work. But remembering that it’s founded on love gives us direction. “Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves,” counsels Peter in the New Testament, “for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). You’ll make mistakes. Your spouse will, too. Be patient and considerate of each other. Take on the hard times in your partnership “with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
It isn’t your spouse’s job to make you happy all the time. Both of you need to work to cultivate happiness in your marriage. So take time to talk, to laugh, to have fun. “Rejoice with the wife [or husband] of thy youth” (Proverbs 5:18) and “live joyfully with the [spouse] whom thou lovest all the days of [thy] life” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).
Being married means you’ll see every side of your spouse: the good, the bad, the strengths, the flaws. Help build your partner’s confidence. Give strength to his or her weaknesses. Give compliments instead of criticism. “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
God instituted the husband-wife relationship as an equal partnership with Adam and Eve (see Genesis 2:24). Marriage is central to God’s plan for our happiness during this life and our eternal happiness in the life hereafter.
Your life here on earth has a purpose. You are here as part of God’s plan. Before any of us were born, we existed in heaven as spirits. God created this earth so that we could have an opportunity to have physical bodies and to learn and grow. When we get married, we are given the sacred opportunity to bring children into this world, and we take on the solemn responsibility to care for them. Because God loves His children, He wants each one of us to receive love, support, and care. This happens best through an honest and devoted marriage.
Your life on earth is not the beginning nor the end of your existence. After you die, your spirit will continue to live in the world of spirits and await the day when your spirit and physical body will be joined together eternally in the resurrection. God wants our treasured, loving relationships to also continue for eternity. This eternal union is possible when a man and a woman and families are sealed in holy temples, where those with proper authority from God fulfill Jesus’ promise that “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).